Woonsocket Call

Gene Littler, 88; won 29 PGA tournament­s, including U.S. Open

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SAN DIEGO (AP) — Gene Littler, whose fluid swing carried him to 29 victories on the PGA Tour and a U.S. Open title at Oakland Hills, has died.

Littler died Friday night with his family at his side, son Curt Litter said Saturday. He was 88.

Littler held his own among the golfing greats to emerge from San Diego with a tempo to his swing that made the game look easy. Gene Sarazen once said Littler had a perfect swing, like Sam Snead, “only better.”

Mickey Wright, asked in 2011 for the best swing she ever saw, mentioned Ben Hogan before quickly adding, “I had my favorites, like Gene Littler, whom I just loved.”

He was known as “Gene the Machine,” and he won the first of his tour titles in the 1954 San Diego Open while still an amateur. He won the 1955 Los Angeles Open for his first pro victory and went on to win three more times that year.

A testament to the quality of his swing was that Littler had a malignant tumor removed from the lymph glands under his left arm in 1972 when he was 42, and he won four more times.

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